Youth from over 30 countries can live and work in Canada under the International Experience Canada work permit program.
Who’s it for?
The IEC program is for passport-holders from more than countries, including Australia, the UK, and Ireland, aged under 30 or 35 depending on the country. You can see the full breakdown of eligible countries, and the age requirements, on this list.
How does it work?
Every year, a number of work permits are assigned to each participating country. Candidates can visit the government’s immigration to Canada website and notify authorities of their desire to get one of these work permits.
After submitting this Expression of Interest, candidates may receive an invitation to apply for a work permit. With this invitation, candidates may submit forms, and pay the application fees. Successful applicants receive a Letter of Introduction, which is presented on arrival in Canada in order for the work permit to be issued.
What’s the advantage?
For eligible candidates, it’s typically an easy way to get a work permit for Canada. The IEC program allows you to live and work in Canada for up to two years, depending on your nationality and the IEC category. Candidates under the working holiday category may obtain an open work permit, meaning they can work for almost any employer in Canada.
The IEC program is a gateway to permanent residency, as the work experience you gain in Canada may give you an advantage when applying for permanent immigration to Canada.
How much does it cost?
The IEC Canada participation fee is CAD$153. For Working Holiday Visa in Canada participants, an open work permit holder fee of CAD$100 is also due.
For IEC Young Professionals and International Co-Op participants, your employer will need to pay a CAD$230 employer compliance fee.
How long does it take?
Once candidates express their interest in obtaining a work permit, they need to wait for an invitation to apply before they can submit their application forms. It can take weeks or months to receive this invite, as they are issued to candidates at random.
However, once the forms and payments are submitted, it should take about eight weeks to receive your Letter of Introduction.
The time limit on the work permit means you may be better off applying for permanent residency if you’re currently eligible to do so (though you may pursue both options simultaneously). In some countries, notably the UK, demand for IEC work permits usually far outstrips supply and thousands of candidates may be disappointed.
Some employers regard the limited duration of the work permit as too short, as they’ll be looking to hire staff who can stay with the company for a longer period. Also, some employers regard the ‘working holiday work permit’ as a transient permit, and may question participants’ career aspirations as a result.